A method of emulating a Hues bridge (eg for use by Alexa) but allowing external programs do the work
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Most of my media center has been configured so I can control it from an Alexa skill

Alexa tell media to pause

The code works out what is currently playing (BluRay, TiVo, iTunes, DVD Player app, etc etc) and sends the necessary commands.

However, skills can't be used from routines. I can't create a routine that will do the equivalent of

Alexa lights on

Alexa tell media to play music

This doesn't seem to be possible.

But Smart Home devices can be called.

There are a number of programs out there that provide a form of Philips Hue smart light emulation. They're good enough that you can use them from Alexa, for example.

So I decided to take that idea, but rather than model the lights internally, I would use an external program to do all the hard work. This would allow me to emulate on/off status of a light by the state of the receiver; for example, the BluRay light would be on if the BluRay input was selected. In this way the state of the emulated lights would reflect the real state of the media center.

Some simple actions could also be added; eg turning on a "play music" light could perform a set of action (turn on the receiver, start iTunes playing). Speciality lights ("play Christmas music") can be added as well.

And so this code... a bridge between the network communications needed to pretend to be a Hue Bridge and a program that does the backend work.

The bridge code basically passes Hue API requests through to a backend process; the backend process is responsible to reporting state. For efficiently the bridge caches state and will return that to any Hue API calls. The backend process can refresh the cache at any time (e.g. if it detects an external event... a volume change on the receiver could update the "brightness" of the associated light).

I also provide a dummy emulated media center showing how this works.

Thanks to

I learned a lot by reading the code at https://github.com/pborges/huejack and https://github.com/mdempsky/huejack - in particular how the UPNP stuff works, and some nice ideas on how to present the XML and JSON structures. I'm probably not using idiomatic GO coding styles, but it works for me!

Communication between bridge and program

The communication patterns are asynchronous. The bridge can send commands to the program and the program can send status updates back to the bridge at any time. It's a very simple protocol.


There's only one command:

LIGHT#name#on/off#brightness -- Set the light named "name" to the on/off status and the brightness (0-255). The name must not contain a # since that is used as the separator. If either the on/off or brightness values are - then that value should be left unchanged.

example: LIGHT#Play Music#on#-

Case of the light name should be insenstive, but that's really up to the program; the bridge will always report what it's learned, but will pass through whatever the API caller presents.

Status updates

LIGHT#name#on/off#brightness -- This is the current state of the light.

LIST#name1#name2#name3 ... -- This can be used to tell the bridge of the complete set of lights being controlled. For example, if you have an environment where devices may join and leave (a mobile phone, perhaps?) then this can be used as a way of refreshing the bridge's knowledge and to stop telling clients about lights that no longer exist.

The names, here, are case sensitive. If the client reports FOO in the "LIGHT" output, but Foo in the "LIST" output then these will be considered two different lights.

Thoughts and commentary

Light names must not contain the # character. This will break things.

The LIGHT status update should probably be sent after a command for that light. It may also be sent periodically so the bridge knows the state of the world or if the program detects a change to the real world state.

I'm not sure if the response to a change is correctly formatted. Or possibly it's just the Alexa app ignoring the response and believing what it sent was applied... but eventually it polls and updates with the correct data.


There isn't really any security on this; the API will accept any user ID, so anyone who can reach the endpoint can control the virtual lights. But since the goal is to make these controllable by Alexa, those people could just use their voice :-)


Apparently some of the history of this code goes all the way back to https://github.com/armzilla/amazon-echo-ha-bridge which was under Apache 2.0, so that's what I'm licensing this under.